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The Sea & His Sons
by Julie Ela Grace
When the earth was young and time had not been written, there was only Land and Sea. The infant sea lapped against the land and kissed it mistily. It caressed the shores and offered it geography, but the land gave nothing to the sea. In its misery, the sea cried out to the one who had created all things and said, “Creator! I am lonely. When I speak to the land, she says nothing at all. I send white waters and she only washes back sand. I raise high above, tidal and brave, and I see nothing but sparse trees and rock. Please Creator, make the land speak to me.”
The Creator of Earth was silent and pondered the sea’s request. When the Creator finally spoke, a question was asked: “Dear Sea, are you simply lonely or do you wish to make the land your companion?”
The sea responded with such force that waters swelled and pooled with a great white rush. “I wish the land to be my companion! We have been here together always. She is all I know. She is my partner in this place.”
The Creator thought for many moments and instead offered the sea four sons. The sea, so overjoyed by new companionship, sent water rumbling under the land. It rushed and turned with such strength that rifts formed in the land and seawater burst through the rock and sand. Lakes and rivers were born on the momentous day that the sea’s sons came to him. The rivers pulsed and salty tides discovered the great structure of the land’s plates. The water raced to tell the father sea of the wonder in the continents.
The sea joyfully welcomed his four sons to Earth, but the sons, infant and new, were afraid of the sea as the Creator had placed each of them onto the water’s great back. The sea comforted his sons and cradled them and told them not to be afraid. He soothed them with the sounds of waves and taught them to float upon the water. The sea said to his sons, “My sons, lie back. I will hold you.” The reluctant children tipped into their father and found that they did not sink. The sons were pleased and cooed with delight.
As the sea’s sons began to grow, he fed them fish and crab. From their lips they licked the water’s salt and knew to love the taste of the ocean. Soon the sons learned to dive with dolphins and they rode the backs of whales. The creatures of the sea guarded the sons as their own and taught them to breathe as fishes do.
After twenty years of suckling from the waters, the Creator appeared before the sons and father. He said, “Sea, have you spoken to the land?”
The sea, surprised, said, “No, I have not spoken to her since you gave me my sons. They are my companions now.”
The Creator was silent and after a great pause, the Creator said, “Sea, your sons are your sons. You wished for Land to be your companion as she has been with you since the beginning. You beseeched my help and you have failed to help her, the land, to find her voice.”
“But you gave me sons!” cried the sea. “You gave her no voice, no movement. The rivers and tides caress her and she still offers nothing. Without my sons, there would be no rivers or lakes. It was their gift to her and she replied without a sound.”
“Their gift to her is still to come,” said the Creator. He called to the sea’s children and said, “You must come with me now.” The eldest son of the sea swam forward and told the Creator he would not leave his father the sea.
The Creator called back to him, “I have created your father the sea and I too have given you life. Do not refuse me.” Suddenly a great wind swept across the sea and the children began to dive toward the seabed, searching for their father’s comforting arms. The sea, grasping for his sons, was held back by the mighty wind. A great tunnel swelled and burst in his waters and he began to weep as he heard his children calling to him. They begged their father to stop the wind as it carried them away. They grabbed for rocks and coral, algae and weeds. The sea’s weeping caused great raindrops to fall as the sons passed above the sands of the land.
The sea’s fourth and youngest son was carried to the great tops of giant trees. He folded himself into the branches and he called for his brothers to grab hold of the massive trunks, to take root in the thick foliage, but his brothers rushed past him—still caught in the wind.
The third brother, with a surge of strength, broke from the wind and dove to the ground. He found himself covered in the dust of a dying lakebed. He was far from his brothers.
The second brother saw a vine from a great tree and he grabbed hold of it. He held to the vine for many hours as the wind rushed around him. When the wind finally fell away, he too was lost from his brothers.
The eldest brother never reached the trees or the vine and he could not break from the wind. He and all his brothers were separated. Each wept the giant tears of their father and rainstorms flooded the lands.
When the oldest brother finally fell upon the land, he called to the Creator again. From the desolate ground, he shouted with anguish: “Why have you forsaken me? Why have you forsaken my father and my brothers?” In the barren place, he continued to weep and he became angry at the Creator for the rupture of his family.
In his anger the sea’s oldest son grew bitter and cold. As he wept, his tears turned to ice and he left frozen trails along the land he paced. He moved about the north countries and searched for water that would lead him to the sea. One morning he found a river, but the river was covered in ice; his coldness and anger had frozen all the land and water. He began to weep as he saw what he his anger had caused. He cried for the Creator to forgive him. The Creator heard his pleas and a hush befell the land. The first snow fell in large flakes upon the head of the sea’s first son. The son laughed as he saw the cascade of white petals fall from the sky. His tears stopped and he looked down again to the frozen river where he saw a trout moving slowly below the sheet of ice. He called to the trout in the language of waters and said, “Dear Trout, have you seen my father the sea?”
The trout began to swish his great tail with joy and said, “You are Winter, the sea’s eldest son!” Winter cried out, “Yes! I am Winter!”
The trout said, “I must find your father and tell him that you are alive!”
The trout began to wiggle his fins rapidly and his silver body slipped into the current of the water. Winter called out to him again and asked, “How is my father, dear Trout? Do you know of my brothers?”
The trout stilled—the swish of his tail slowed. “Your father has been stricken with grief since the Creator placed you with the land. He has heard no news of you nor your brothers as the lakes and rivers have been frozen for many months. He and the land do not speak the same language and she cannot tell him where you are.” Winter fell into a great heap upon the fresh snow. He cried steadily as it was he who had frozen the land and lakes with his anger and tears. The trout looked to Winter and said, “Dear Winter, I will find your brothers. Do not move from this place. I will tell them where you are and I will tell your father that you are alive.”
Winter cried, “But dear Trout, how will you navigate the frozen waterways? I have hampered your route with my cold tears.” The trout responded coolly, “Son of the sea, look at me. I am strong and brave. I will challenge the ice and glide in the cold waters below. The scales of my skin will not freeze and I will move forward.” The trout then moved quickly from sight, disappearing into the still night river. Winter laid back onto the snow and he realized that the snow was made of water. He called thanks to the Creator and then fell asleep and cradled a blanket of snow.
The second of the sea’s sons swung from the vines of the deep forests. A chill had set upon the land and he foraged for food on the forest floor. The brother discovered seeds that he ate for sustenance and when he filled of the seeds, he placed them in his pockets for safekeeping. Soon the brother’s pockets began to overflow with seeds and as he swung from the vines the seeds spread across the snowy land.
One afternoon as the second brother moved through the vines of the forest, he heard a great splash below him. He looked down and saw a glimmering trout racing amongst icebergs. He heard the language of the waters spoken to him and he leapt from the vine and his feet sunk deep into the snow below. “Great Trout, do you speak to me?”
The trout happily swooshed his tail and said, “Yes! You are the second son of the sea and brother to Winter. Your name is Spring.”
Spring knelt to the river’s icy edge and touched the trout’s majestic back. He rubbed the trout’s head and the trout gurgled with glee. “Great Trout, have you news of my brothers or father?”
The trout swooshed mightily and told Spring of his meeting with Winter. He relayed Winter’s location and then said he must hurry to the sea as he had now found two of his sons alive and well! The trout sprang forward and dove into the stream. Spring cried out to him as he longed to hear more since it had been months since he’d heard the language of the waters, but the trout was already far away, coursing through the veins of the river.
Spring, excited by the news, took hold of a forest vine and began swinging through trees toward the edge of the forest where the trees meet the fields. He did not know how he would make his way through the frozen grains as the land was so foreign to him. Spring leapt to the forest floor again and searched for seeds for the journey, filling his pockets completely. He approached the edge of the forest and made his way onto the land.